My most memorable travel experience was when I went scuba diving in Fiji. I was staying at the eco-luxury Jean Michel Cousteau Resort, located on the island of Vanua Levu. This resort is world-renowned for its diving center and has access to some of the world’s most spectacular reefs. So, when I was asked if I wanted to get PADI-certified, I couldn’t have given my reply any faster: “Yes!”
Geoff, our incredible dive instructor, taught us the basic scuba skills in the pool. We became familiar with how the dive gear works and went over safe diving practices. That first breath underwater felt so unnatural; it’s strange breathing underwater when you know you shouldn’t be breathing.
Once we had “mastered” the basic skills in the pool, Geoff said that we were ready to go out into the open waters. The dive team packed the boat with air tanks and weights, and we were off. It took us about 15 minutes to arrive at the dive site: Golden Nugget. Not knowing what to expect and hoping nothing was going to go astray, I was excited and nervous at the same time.
We got suited up and plopped in the water backwards off the side of the boat. As I made my way down the rope to decompress, I found that breathing felt more organic than it had in the pool. Maybe it was due to the open water and having space to swim around without worrying about running into someone, or maybe it was because I was distracted by the little fish swimming at my feet
. With this overwhelming sense of calmness, all of my worries vanished.
Inching our way closer to the ocean floor, I was captivated by the thousands of vibrant and florescent fish that were swimming about the reef. It was like staring at an underwater rainbow. But a moving one, stirring with life.
As we swam around the coral reef, Geoff had a magnetic magic erase board where he would write down the types of fish and coral to inform us of what we were looking at. It was like taking a marine biology course, but one I was interested in paying attention to.
There was a moment where I stopped swimming and just stared at the reef. I was in such awe of the natural beauty that my jaw would have dropped if I would not have had to worry about water trying to rush in. If I could, I would have stayed there all day. It was pure bliss.
Someone once mentioned that Fiji was the most beautiful destination below the water. Knowing that Fiji was the soft coral capital of the world, I figured this could be true but did not fully understand it. Now that I have experienced it, I could not agree more. It exceeded all expectations.
This dive has inspired me to get scuba-certified, and I am eager to get back in the water. It was love at first dive.